How to Become a Perianesthesia Nurse

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Every day many patients require surgical procedures where they are required to undergo anesthesia. Perianesthesia nurses are registered nurses that specialize in providing care to patients before and after undergoing anesthesia.


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What does a perianesthesia nurse do?

Perianesthesia nurses provide preoperative and postoperative care to patients that are treated with anesthesia for a variety of procedures. They obtain medical histories, perform patient examinations and assessments, and monitor vital signs. They prepare patients for surgical anesthesia by explaining the procedure and helping them relax. They monitor patients throughout the time they are under anesthesia and report any abnormal observations to physicians. When patients awake from anesthesia, perianesthesia nurses monitor them as they return to a normal state. They constantly monitor patients as they recover to make sure there are no adverse reactions.

What kind of training does a perianesthesia nurse need?

Perianesthesia nurses must become registered nurses by completing a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor degree program in nursing. All nursing programs provide intensive classroom and laboratory instruction and supervised clinical experiences. All registered nurses must become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Many perianesthesia nurses gain the Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse (CPAN) or the Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia Nurse (CAPA) designation from the American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification (ABPANC). The certification requirements include minimum experience and passing a written examination. Perianesthesia nurses must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications and stay current on the advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a perianesthesia nurse?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing and aging population and increased need for anesthesia services will drive job growth of perianesthesia nurses.

Job prospects are should be excellent especially for perianesthesia nurses with professional certification and extensive experience. Many job openings will result from the need to replace perianesthesia nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do perianesthesia nurses make?

As of December 2009, the average annual salary for perianesthesia nurses is $49,000; average annual perianesthesia nurse salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a perianesthesia nurse is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in providing care to patients undergoing anesthesia for a variety of reasons. Perianesthesia nurses must have a solid understanding of anesthesia practices and be able to provide care to a variety of patients. They must be aware of common reactions and be able to help patients feel at ease. Physical stamina, patience, detail orientation, determination, and motivation are necessary characteristics. Perianesthesia nurses must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to work as part of a team. They must be quick on their feet and be able to make sound decisions in emergency situations.

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